December 3, 2023

Oscar Performance, Senior Investment ready for Belmont Derby

Oscar Performance will seek his fourth graded turf stakes win at Belmont Park (c) NYRA/Viola Jasko/Adam Coglianese Photography

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) hero Oscar Performance posted his final major move ahead of the $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) when going five-eighths in :59.95 over Belmont Park’s firm turf on Sunday.

The bay ridgling was last seen taking the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) at Belmont on June 3, his first win of the year after running fifth in the Transylvania Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and last of 10 in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs.

“I thought it was a very smooth work; he went off in 13-and-change and came out of the last three in 34-and-change and looked very good doing it,” trainer Brian Lynch said. “It looks like he’s in very good order going into the Belmont Derby.”

The Belmont Derby is one of the feature events during the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival on July 8.

Also pointing for the 1 1/4-mile turf contest is Grade 3 winner Senior Investment, last seen running fifth in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 10.

The Ken McPeek-trained colt breezed five furlongs in :59.89 over Belmont’s firm Widener turf Sunday in company with Grade 2-winning stablemate and Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up Daddys Lil Darling, who is readying for another feature contest in the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1).

Jockey Dylan Davis was aboard Senior Investment while exercise rider Javier Copantitla piloted Daddys Lil Darling in the move.

“They breezed nice, very easy,” said Jeff Odintz, McPeek’s Belmont-based assistant. “They really went good. Dylan and Javier never asked them to run. So, all we got to do is get lucky in the race, like I always say. The rest is going to happen on July 8.”

Senior Investment and Daddys Lil Darling have each raced once on turf, with the former finishing fourth in his career debut at Ellis Park last July.

Daddys Lil Darling, sixth in the Florida Oaks (G3) on March 11 at Tampa Bay Downs, was scheduled to make her return to the turf in the June 2 Epsom Oaks (Eng-G1) in England, but ran off in the post parade and scratched.

Fifty Five captured the Florida Oaks by a neck and is also targeting the Belmont Oaks, along with fellow Chad Brown trainee Uni.

That duo readied for the Belmont Oaks with an in-company breeze on Belmont’s turf Sunday, going five furlongs in 1:00.85.

“Everyone worked good and breezed well. I was very happy with it,” Brown said.

Trainer Chad Brown sent out eight horses to work on the Belmont Park turf on Sunday morning, with some of the contingent breezing for the final time before the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival.

The British-bred Uni will be making her U.S. debut in the Belmont Oaks after beginning her career in France.

“She’s done well since she arrived and each week I see her improving so I’m really looking forward to seeing her,” Brown said of the listed winner.

Penn Mile (G2) hero Frostmourne is a candidate for the Belmont Derby and breezed a half-mile in :48.77 on Sunday over Belmont’s Widener turf.

“(Frostmourne) is still possible for the Belmont Derby or the (July 15) Kent Stakes ([G3] at Delaware Park),” trainer Christophe Clement said. “We’ll have to discuss with (owner) Mr. Masson. He came out of the Penn Mile in good shape and this was his third work since then. He’s fit, well and looks very strong.”

The dark bay colt worked in company with multiple Grade/Group 3-placed Desiree Clary, who was caught in :49.11.

“Desiree Clary is on target for the (July 9) River Memories (at Belmont Park),” Clement added. “I’m happy with the way she trained today. She seemed to work very well with Frostmourne.”